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Grasslands conservation boosted through southwestern Alberta donation

Three portions of land in southwestern Alberta, about 2,500 hectares in total, will be conserved under an agreement between private landowners and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. (Supplied/NCC/Sean Feagan) Three portions of land in southwestern Alberta, about 2,500 hectares in total, will be conserved under an agreement between private landowners and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. (Supplied/NCC/Sean Feagan)

A large swath of land in southern Alberta that houses critical ecosystems and plays a role in environmental sustainability will now be protected for years to come.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) says three properties in the Porcupine Hills region have been donated by landowners.

The agreements with the anonymous donors ensure each of tracts of land will continue to support cattle grazing and maintain Canada's grasslands, a critical ecosystem that helps filter water, protect soil, support wildlife and capture carbon emissions.

"Conserving private land in the Porcupine Hills underscores our shared responsibility of safeguarding our natural heritage before it's too late," said Tom Lynch-Stanton, the NCC's regional vice-president, in a statement.

"By working hand-in-hand with ranchers, we are not only conserving the breathtaking landscapes that define Alberta, but also helping to continue a legacy of stewardship dating back generations."

The NCC says natural lands in the Porcupine Hills are under constant threat of changing land use and development.

It says conservation work in those lands is key for preventing these threats and maintaining ecology.

"These newly conserved lands also serve as important movement corridors for wildlife, including grizzly bear and elk. By conserving these corridors, NCC is helping to maintain healthy ecosystems and diverse wildlife populations," officials said.

The NCC's work in the region began in the 1990s and has since gone to conserve more than 37,000 hectares of land.

The newly conserved lands are part of the NCC's Prairie Grasslands Action Plan, which has a goal to protect more than 500,000 hectares of land by 2030.

More information on the project can be found online.

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